Hi everyone, this is Tim Furlong, er I mean, Tim "Phurlong" coming to you from sunny Florida where Rays fans are all fired up for their baseball team -- kinda.
I say "kinda" because it seems so many people in this area aren't even from here, and while they support the local team (even if it is only once they reach the playoffs) they all seem conflicted. Very few people here will just come out and say "Go Rays."
This is a very different place than the Delaware Valley -- Philly sports fans don't have to think about support. We love the teams that play in South Philly -- no questions asked.
Go up the road to Clearwater and the conflict runs much deeper.
Clearwater is the spring training home of the Phillies and many of the locals here, like the folks at Lenny's Diner, know the Phils personally and so they feel a strong Philly allegiance.
In the Phils' spring training stadium store, we even caught supposed Rays fans buying Phillies stuff.
Another observation -- every newspaper and talk radio station down here is right out there with their distaste for Philadelphia fans. To be fair, they didn't hit it off well with Boston fans either but it seems the local media here has gone for the cheap, easy and, frankly, unfair storyline about rude fans invading from the north.
Come on -- most fans from the north aren't even here yet!
It's funny that they are running these stories when the much more obvious storyline is the "Tampa-has-Philly's-number" storyline:
- The Lightning knocked the Flyers out of the NHL playoffs a few years back.
- And don't forget that Bucs' kicker who beat us on that miracle 63-yard field goal last season.
Well listen gang, I'm down here for the next couple of days and I'm more than happy to be your eyes and ears. You keep reading, I'll keep blogging.
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For now -- Go Phils!